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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Archive for December 2nd, 2009

New Knock ‘miracle’ may lead to blindness

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That’s the verdict of Dr Eamonn O’Donoghue, a leading Irish ophthalmologist.


Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Protestantism has no effect on growth, says economist

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So Max Weber was wrong: a “Protestant ethic” isn’t an economic advantage.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 8:11 pm

It’s OK to put your relatives in a pressure cooker, says Catholic ethicist

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The importance of an arresting “intro”, or opening paragraph, is drummed into trainee journalists. I think this one takes some beating:

A good Catholic can pressure cook their dearly departed in an alkaline solution so that most of the body can be flushed down the drain before the remaining clean white bones are crushed into a white powder, put in an urn and buried in consecrated ground, according to a Catholic ethicist.

Who wouldn’t want to read on?

Full story here.

Hat tip: Catholic News Service

Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Benedict XVI ranks high on world’s top thinkers list

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Foreign Policy magazine has ranked Pope Benedict XVI as the 17th most important thinker in the world today (Richard Dawkins is 18th).

The citation reads:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s election as pope in 2005 was a surprise to everyone, including himself. ‘God’s Rottweiler’, so-called for his purges of liberal reformists, was older than most candidates, bookish, and very conservative.

As pope, Benedict has certainly moved the church closer to its form prior to Vatican II’s sweeping modernizations. This traditionalism has garnered excitement in some circles, but it has also sparked controversy, particularly this year when he tried to reinstate excommunicated bishops from the Society of St. Pius X – one of whom was a well-known Holocaust denier.

But it hasn’t all been anti-Semites and Latin masses. Benedict has also been outspoken about the perils of reckless capitalism in the aftermath of the financial crisis; he has positioned the church prominently and unexpectedly as an advocate for the environment and warned against the perils of climate change. And, despite early stumbles with the Muslim world and anger over what many saw as an attempt to lure disillusioned Anglican conservatives to the church, the pope has worked hard for interfaith dialogue.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Archbishop Nichols reveals his sporting hero

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Photo: Former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish in action during a charity match
(Chris Young/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Archbishop Vincent Nichols has named his sporting hero. In the December issue of the Oremus, the Westminster Cathedral magazine, he writes of his lifelong love of Liverpool FC.

He recalls watching the Heysel Stadium Disaster with horror on television while in Hungary and attending Mass after the events at Hillsborough. He writes:

One player in particular showed his true Anfield spirit during that time. Kenny Dalglish, a player at Heysel and the manager at Hillsborough, spent endless hours in the months after Hillsborough talking with those caught up in the tragedy. He personally attended as many of the 90 funeral services as was humanly possible. For me, he will always be one of Liverpool FC’s finest.

In his recent Tablet interview, the Archbishop of Westminster insisted that Liverpool’s beleaguered manager, Rafael Benítez, should not be sacked.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Cafod accuses mining company of polluting local water

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The official aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales claims it has uncovered documents showing water contamination at a mine in Honduras owned by mining giant Goldcorp.

Cafod says:

Cafod’s Extractives Policy Analyst Sonya Maldar said: ‘Despite Goldcorp’s continual denial, this new information provides irrefutable evidence that the San Martin mine has caused pollution in Honduras. This is the latest in a long list of problems at the mine. Goldcorp must clean up its act so that the people of Siria Valley are not left with a toxic legacy when the company leaves Honduras at the end of the year.’

Mining specialists from Newcastle University carried out an investigation into the design and implementation of Goldcorp’s mine closure plan. The report produced by the Newcastle University team includes data – previously undisclosed by the Honduran regulatory authorities – showing a severe incident of pollution in September 2008.

The report released today reveals acidity of the water at two sites reached levels of a pH between 2.5 and 3, which is typically very damaging to stream biology. (Distilled water has a pH of 7, vinegar 3 and lemon juice 2). As well as high levels of cadmium, copper and iron.

This is consistent with a complaint presented by a local community group, the Siria Valley Environmental Committee, to Honduras’ Environmental Prosecutor about discolouration of the water flowing from streams originating from within the mine’s perimeter on 24 September 2008. Community members reported that the water was a ‘reddish colour (…) and emanated a strong smell of sulphur’. This indicates that contaminated water from the mine’s perimeter had entered streams used by people in the Siria Valley for domestic and agricultural purposes.

Cafod and other activists will meet Goldcorp officials at their offices in Toronto on December 10 to discuss concerns raised by the report.

Cafod has some good background on the mine here.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm